Blue Suede Shoes – Upcycle!

John had a pair of white shoes that were always getting dirty, and such a chore to clean. Instead of this vicious cycle, I decided to take his shoes with me to the Art Works Studio at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre while I was a frequent outpatient.

It was time to breathe some new life into Johns’ shoes with some dye!

I chose “Indigo” by Pebeo Setacolor and set to work. I taped off the soles, took out the laces, and brushed on the opaque paint/dye (watered down a bit for ease of use) with a foamy brush. The shoes were quite wet, so I worked on another project for a few hours, then did another coat. Then when I was back the next week, I did a final coat. Doing this at home, it would take a few days due to the drying needed between coats. I was also rehabbing my left hand, so I was painting with my left, which lead to a “heavier hand”, therefore a damper shoe. Had I been using my dominant hand, it may have been a lighter, more even amount of paint, hence shorter drying times.

taping soles & laces out

first coat


After dyeing and removing the tape, if you got any paint on unwanted areas (under the tap, on the leather etc), you can easily remove it with a q-tip and some rubbing alcohol. Then you need to heat set the shoes. I put them in the dryer for about 20 minutes. You could also use a hairdryer.




Dirty white shoes are now a fresh bluey-purple, perfect for spring/summer/fall! Ta-da: Up-cycling for the win!


–       light coloured shoes

–       tape (masking or painters are probably best options)

–       paint/dye (I used Pebeo Setacolors’ “indigo” – available at Opus in Vancouver)

–       brush

–       rubbing alcohol & q-tip

–       newspaper for work area


–       prep shoes (tape on, laces off)

–       brush on dye

–       let dry between coats

–       remove tape, rubbing alcohol touch ups

–       heat set (dryer or hair dryer)

–       laces in!


Here is John modeling his new “blue suede shoes”. He gets many compliments when he wears them!

rocking his "new" shoes

rocking his “new” shoes





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